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Hudson River Almanac November 8 - November 15, 2011

OVERVIEW

While autumn hangs on in a week of abnormally high air temperatures, fall migration has slowed and some signs of seasonal change (winter ducks) have arrived. At least one migrant - the rufous hummingbird in Yonkers (11/14) - was far afield from its expected itinerary.

HIGHLIGHT OF A PREVIOUS WEEK

11/4 - Pleasant Valley, HRM 76: All day I had huge flocks of robins coming to the cedar tree just outside my door, feasting on its blue-gray berries. At any one time there were at least 20 robins in the tree, with more coming and going all day. I presume they were refueling during migration. I have never noticed this before. I sat and watched in amazement, enjoying the warm fall day.
- Kathy Kraft mm

NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

11/8 - Stanfordville, HRM 84: I had the good fortune of watching what was probably a "family" of eagles, two adults and an immature, on Tamarack Lake. There was much loud vocalizing and eventually the immature rose in a thermal and the smaller adult (male?) flew off to the other side of the pond. I loved the big yellow feet on the juvenile!
- Deb Kral

11/8 - Staatsburg, HRM 83: I heard two katydids tonight, each able to generate a low, slow, two-stroke call. It is the latest I have ever hear them. Somehow they endured even through the snow storm of a week ago.
- Daniel Seymour

11/8 - Town of Wappinger, HRM 67: I went out specifically in late evening to enjoy a view of the near full moon and Jupiter, almost in tandem, overhead. As I had my fill and was about to leave I heard geese calling. While I could not see them, I suspected that they were high-flyers with their calls growing louder as they moved closer. As I always do on these occasions, I waited, in vain, to see they would fly across the face of the moon.
- Tom Lake

11/9 - Kowawese, HRM 59: Hope spring eternal. It was the third unseasonably warm day in a row - the air temperature was 67 degrees Fahrenheit and there was a "summer haze" on Cornwall Bay. The river "begged" to be seined. We hoped that we would catch the tail end of the autumn herring migration, or perhaps some tropical visitors (jacks) finally leaving the warm water outflow at Danskammer Power Generating Station seven miles upstream, heading downriver to the sea. But we could not deny the date or the river temperature of 51 degrees F. We hauled our seine over and over and each time we found dozens of spottail shiners and young-of-the-year white perch, native fish and lovely to look at, but rather ordinary.
- Tom Lake, A. Danforth

[The spottail shiner (Notropis hudsonius), a native species, is found from the Canadian Maritimes westward to the Northwest Territories of Canada, south through the Midwest and Great Lakes, and along the Atlantic slope south through the Carolinas. Yet across all that broad expanse of North America, they were first described, in scientific terms, in New York State, specifically in the Hudson River (its type site) by DeWitt Clinton in 1824. In addition to being a three-time mayor of New York City and the sixth governor of New York State (1817-1822), Clinton was also a naturalist. Tom Lake.]

11/10 - Town of Fishkill, HRM 63.5: This was day four of unseasonably warm air temperatures, again in the upper 60s. On a long walk around the edges of Stony Kill Farm I counted 47 bluebirds in the scrub, shrubs, and understory at the edge of the forest. Many birds are "blue," from jays to warblers to buntings, but the blue trimmed with orange of the eastern bluebird actually warms the heart.
- Tom Lake

11/11 - Croton Point, HRM 34.5: It was a blustery day and the small birds were sheltering from the gusts. On the landfill, three harriers [marsh hawks] and a Cooper's hawk were looking for a meal. At the mouth of the Croton River, a score of mute swans and a dozen coot were staying out of the wind.
- Christopher Letts

11/12 - Constitution Marsh Sanctuary, HRM 52: I spotted several scaup - winter ducks - probably lesser scaup rather than greater scaup, out on the marsh today.
- Eric Lind

11/13 - Croton River, HRM 34: It has been long weeks since I last saw an osprey here, but this morning there were three of them hunting over the south cove at Inbuckie along the railroad tracks. All three drifted away to the south and a few minutes later another appeared over the north cove, passed overhead and followed its brethren out of sight.
- Christopher Letts, Gino Garner, B. Bruce

11/13 - Poughkeepsie, HRM 75.5:
"What We See Down by the River"
Glistening water
Fish jumping
Water moving
Barge moving north
Eel swimming
Water chestnuts
Brackish water
Driftwood branches
Devil's heads
Tide changing
Northbound train
Goose poop
Big rocks
52 degrees
Leaves changing
Trains running
Still waves
American flag waving
Drifting dock
River moving north
Sticks floating
Rusty bridge
Ripples on water
Kids on shore
Bottles floating
Trees falling
Striped sky
River mile wide
Green grass
Patches of snow
Big rocks
Yapping gulls
Person walking
Cool breeze
Long walkway
Tiny ripples
Boats moving
Sunny
- Fourth and Fifth Graders, Krieger School, City of Poughkeepsie

11/13 - Croton Reservoir, HRM 34: I looked up into the pale blue morning sky and saw an eagle soaring in circles over my woods. Its rhythm was counter-clockwise to the swirling of leaves one level lower in the wind. The bird's bright white head showed in each turn of its circle. I suppose that it did not see any prospects for breakfast at the reservoir's edge, so after a few minutes it flapped its great wings a couple of times and headed west to the Hudson.
- Robin Fox

11/14 - Germantown, HRM 118: With regard to the bobcat sighting last week in Germantown [see 11/5], two years ago a neighbor stopped at my driveway as I was getting out of the car and asked, "Did you see them?" "Them" were a couple of bobcat kittens that I missed running along under the cover of a forsythia hedge. Last year my neighbor had a bobcat in his yard. Maybe we have resident family somewhere in town.
- Mimi Brauch

11/14 - Hyde Park, HRM 82: Blue jays were taking their turn at our feeding stations when I noticed one in the crowd was not a jay at all. It was a bluebird that seemed to have joined their ranks.
- Barbara Wells

11/14 - Chelsea, HRM 63.5: In early afternoon the last of the flood tide was still barely creeping up on the boat launch. Yet out in the river, the current had already turned toward the sea. Modern science defines the vagaries of estuarine tides and currents but I always wonder how the mythologies of prehistoric cultures explained such a complex phenomenon. In early evening we had a sunset that defied language. The best I can do is to call it a "tangerine sunset" of exquisite color that extended from the western horizon all the way overhead and beyond to the east. It was the kind of sunset that did not require an associated natural history observation to make it worthy of mention.
- Tom Lake

[Tides are the vertical movement of water; currents associated with tides are a horizontal movement. The strength of tide is primarily from gravitational and centrifugal forces generated between the moon and the earth, with some influence from the sun. Strength of current is a combination of the range of tide, from high to low, and the depth of the water over which the current passes. Deeper water takes longer to stop and turn than shallow water. As a result, the water may start rising or falling before the current switches direction. Tom Lake.]

11/14 - Yonkers, HRM 18: For the fourth time in eleven years the Beverly Smith Butterfly Garden at Lenoir Nature Preserve in Yonkers, overlooking the Hudson River, is hosting a rufous hummingbird. It was first observed on November 6 by Bill Van Wart at a feeder behind the Lenoir Mansion where Hudson River Audubon Society conducts a part-time hawk-watch. It was later found coming to one of the three feeders inside the butterfly garden as well as some blooming pineapple. It was still present today and is expected to remain here for a while more.
- Michael Bochnik

[Why is a western hummingbird in Yonkers? There's no new population that anyone knows of. I think it's just a combination of feeders left up after our ruby-throated hummingbirds have departed and an expansion of west coast birds wintering in the southeast. There's just more of a chance a bird will come up and find a feeder. Michael Bochnik.]

11/15 - Albany, HRM 145: The Montessori Magnet School spent their Day in the Life of the Hudson River (10/18) at the Corning Preserve. Analysis of their seine catch has been sorted out and verified. Among the fish caught were 18 brook silversides about 71 millimeters [mm] long.
- Sean Madden, Karen Strong

[Brook silverside (Labidesthes sicculus) is not a native species to the Hudson River watershed; that is to say, it was not here when the first Europeans arrived in the seventeenth century. It is native to the Great Lakes and southward into the Mississippi watershed. This fish likely arrived here in the early nineteenth century through the Erie Canal and Mohawk River connecting the Great Lakes with the Hudson. Tom Lake.]

11/15 - Hyde Park, HRM 82: Amid the usual titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, juncos, cardinals, blue jays and finches, the Bradford pear in my yard filled up yesterday with a crowd of robins and waxwings, while starlings covered the lawn. The tree was half the mass it had been before the October snow, and the small fruits were all over the lawn as well as in the tree. The robins and waxwings were eating them like I have never seen before. It appeared they were all traveling together, but this morning only the waxwings were back in the tree
- Peter Fanelli

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